Chapter One—Move-In Day
Hermione Granger sat at the full dinner table in the Muggle kitchen. She kept her eyes on the plate in front of her. Her parents talked quietly from their corner of the table. Dr. Andrew Granger kept throwing suspicious looks at their newly acquired houseguest. Dr. Jean Granger nattered on, completely oblivious to her husband's malcontent and her daughter's discomfort.
Hermione, never at a loss for words before today, sat in silence, diagonal from her professor-turned-bodyguard. She could feel whenever his cold, black eyes glared in her direction—the skin on the back of her neck tingled.
"I hope you don't have a completely horrible summer, Professor Snape," Hermione said quietly, rising from the table. She left her empty plate in the sink and exited the room.
Severus Snape did not bother to respond. He picked sullenly at his food. His summer holiday—ruined. Ruined because of one egomaniacal wizard named Voldemort. No, it was Dumbledore's fault—no, it was Granger's fault for being born a witch in the first place! The Potion's master stabbed at a carrot with his fork. It wasn't the girls fault. Definitely Dumbledore's fault.
Two Days Ago
"Minerva, you can't leave me here," Snape whispered furiously.
Professor Minerva McGonagall leveled her patented disapproving scowl at her young friend. "Severus, it is not my decision. Albus thinks you'll be safe here—and I am inclined to agree." She knocked on the Muggle door. "Where better to hide a Death Eater than in a Muggle home?"
"Within the pits of Hell?" he muttered, crossing his arms over his black long-sleeved shirt and hoodie.
"Besides, Severus, you're a half-blood—it shouldn't be difficult for you to assimilate." Minerva smoothed down her smart Muggle pant-suit as the Granger's front door swung open.
"Professor McGonagall. Professor Snape." Hermione Granger stood grimly in the doorway. Her eyes swept the yard warily before letting them pass. "Please come in."
Snape felt terribly out of place. This home was much nicer than his Muggle house—his shitty, failed attempt at a childhood home. He had no idea the dental industry was so lucrative. Of course, his Muggle father had never deigned to take his only son to a dentist. A glance of the kitchen revealed state of the art appliances.
As Hermione introduced her professors to her parents, Snape observed what was to be his new habitat. The electronics and furniture were all high-end. None of the pictures moved but they were in tasteful silver frames. There were no recent pictures of Miss Granger, though several vacation pictures hung about.
"Hermione mentioned that we would be hosting one of her teachers from her school," Mr. Granger ventured. "This is for our protection?"
"Yes," Minerva said, seating herself demurely upon the Granger's tan leather couch. "Hermione is in danger, and by extension, so are you."
"Why is Hermione in danger?" Mrs. Granger asked. Hermione sat on the end of the couch, her expression dead. Professor Snape stood at the entryway, hands behind his back.
Professor McGonagall swiftly glanced over at her prized pupil. "She is a Muggle-born witch. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named feels such witches and wizards are inferior in some way."
"Surely it would be better if Hermione stopped being a witch then!"
"We have this same argument every year," Hermione said. "I've told you—I can't leave Harry nor do I want to leave the wizarding world."
"Hermione, a war won't be won just because you're there," her mother said in an attempt to be placating.
Snape noticed the fire burst into light in Granger's eyes. "Every person we can get is useful in the fight against Voldemort!" she said. "And I have already proven how much I help Harry several times over!"
"Then why do you need to do so again?" Mrs. Granger asked. "Let someone older, more experienced fight in this war."
"Mother," Hermione willed herself to calm down. "Regardless of what you think, that is not why Professor Snape and Professor McGonagall are here." The fire dimmed and she slumped forward a bit.
"That's quite right, Miss Granger," Minerva said, still bristling over the argument she had just witnessed. "I have come here today to inform you all of the rules. A tracking charm will be placed on all your vehicles and Hermione is not to leave the house unescorted. That same rule applies to whenever you visit Mr. Potter or Mr. Weasley and vice-versa. As you are in a Muggle area and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named only has a vague idea of where you might be, magic is only to be used in the direst of circumstances. Only thosethat the Ord—Headmaster deems necessary will be allowed into the house, so no guests, I'm afraid," she said to the dentists. She stood and Hermione followed suit. "I really must be going now. Professor Snape will explain in greater detail should you have any questions."
"Professor Snape will be staying?" Mr. Granger asked through a tight-lipped smile.
Snape rolled his eyes. The alpha-male feels threatened, he thought to himself.
"Professor Snape is a highly skilled wizard and is the best possible man for the job," Minerva said in a clipped tone. She slapped him on the shoulder. "And he doesn't eat much."
The mother smiled at the joke but the father did not. The three wizards walked onto the front porch. The street would have been sunny if clouds did not constantly fill the sky. Now that they had been set loose, the dementors were determined to infect every aspect of daily life with their darkness, even London's weather.
On the front porch, Granger regained some of her swotty exuberance. "How much do you want me to tell them?"
"It doesn't seem like you told them much of anything Miss Granger," Professor Snape replied icily.
"No. It's for the best." She became a little downcast but did not falter in her stance. "Should I continue to keep the Order a secret?"
"Of course. You were wise to keep them out of it," McGonagall interjected.
"What exactly do they already know?" Snape asked.
"They know of everything that happened up until Voldemort returned. Now they only know I'm friends with Harry, Voldemort's target, and that I'm in danger because of that and being a Muggle-born. They also know about Death Eaters."
Snape stiffened. "Do they?"
"Of course they don't know the intimate details, nor do I expect they need to," Hermione replied. She hadn't mentioned to her parents that a Death Eater would be living with them for the next few months. "Should they notice you disappear every once in a while I will cover for you."
"How very thoughtful, Miss Granger," he sneered.
"I suspect you and Severus will be able to keep many things secret from your parents, Hermione," Minerva said, fixing an understanding gaze onto her brightest pupil. "Remember to comb the Muggle news carefully and report any pertinent findings at the next Order meeting." She looked at both of them in turn before saying "Do try not to kill each other."
Hermione darted a nervous glance towards her professor. Snape scowled at Minerva's retreating form and then at his new charge.
The professor turned on his heel, stalking back into the house. Hermione followed, securely locking the door by hand.
"I'll show you to your room, Professor," Hermione said nervously. This summer is going to be absolutely terrible, she thought.
"I'll take care of that," Mr. Granger said with a humorless smile on his face. "Follow me."
Hermione's eyes grew in size. Was it always going to be so tense in this house?
"Let's go fix dinner, shall we dear?" Mrs. Granger asked, looping her arm through her daughters. "Give the men time to talk."
Hermione wondered how much talking was getting done and by whom.
"Here is the bathroom," Dr. Granger gestured to the first door on the right. "And right across from it is the guest bedroom," he smiled. There was a slight emphasis on the word guest. As if Snape didn't already know he wasn't welcome. "Our room is next door should you need anything. Our home is at your disposal."
"Thank you, Dr. Granger. I assure you I will not be in the way." His spine had yet to un-straighten since stepping into this veritable death trap. The house was not Unplottable nor secret-kept—no doubt their name and address was in the phone book as well! Merlin this was going to be a terrible summer.
Ever thorough, Hermione sat with pen and notebook in hand as she watched the afternoon news. She perched on the edge of the couch watching the rather large television in the living room. Snape glowered at it. Every inch of the Granger household reminded him of his pitiable childhood. Why couldn't he have been stuck with the Weasley's?
Scratch that thought. That would be six times as insufferable, he reminded himself. When he wasn't glaring at the telly he was perusing the local newspapers. Thankfully none of the stories screamed Death Eaters at him. Severus glared at the Granger girl then decided to try to figure out the crossword puzzle without using a pencil.
The dentists had gone to work and left the house in silence. Hermione watched the morning news alone, suspecting Professor Snape was having a bit of a lie-in. Ever since Voldemort's return in her fourth year she had noticed that Professor Snape had perpetual black circles under his eyes. She doubted one had much time for sleep in between both teaching and spying duties.
Hermione didn't want to wake him because she was relishing the time alone.
Normally the two would pass silent hours in the living room until Hermione would go into the kitchen to make lunch. About ten minutes later, Severus would relocate to the kitchen table, reading whatever he had in his hands at the time. They would eat silently, Snape continuing to read. She would clear her plate then go back to the living room or to the den to read something herself. Like clockwork, Snape would appear ten minutes later. He was driving her batty with his all of his hovering! At least when she was home alone she could talk to herself—the silence was stifling! Not to mention the glaring! The man was always glaring, usually at her—as if it was her fault he was stuck here.
Hermione flopped onto her back, settling into the couch. She stared at the ceiling, willing the summer to go by faster. More than a week out of school and she had done nothing constructive. She was bored—her mind was stagnating.
Professor Snape entered the sitting room and spared her prone form a glance. He sat in the lone chair in the corner and flicked open a magazine.
Hermione couldn't stop herself. She had to say something, anything! Even if he scolded her, at least they would be talking. "Want to play chess?" she asked the ceiling.
"I hate Wizard's chess," she said brusquely as he continued reading.
"I only have Muggle chess."
Snape's eyes stopped roving the page. He looked to be considering it. All hope was dashed however when he said "No."
Hermione sighed and looked at the ceiling some more. If only it weren't so cold, she could be outside swimming. Voldemort ruins everything! she thought.